We can clearly see what all the fuss is. It’s more than evident now, even to the naysayers, (which we’d still be swinging from trees if they had their way) that additive manufacturing (3D printing) is not just here to stay, but it will disrupt and improve almost every facet of our civilization.
But wait, if that’s so true, why on earth can’t my network users and clients install the thing themselves? It’s supposed to essentially, as far as your computer is concerned, just be another printer. I understand, it’s a bit more than just an appliance, but we really need to move this technology to plug & play status quickly if we want this to be mainstream. You know, just like how Apple made the PC (almost) idiot proof. You listening Makerbot?
Nevertheless, Makerbot in fact almost has it laid out completely in an easy to use package. It really is simple to install a Makerbot 3D Printer.
Mind you, I am basing this article on a Makerbot Replicator 2, which at this point, ss moving towards to our outdated pile. But until DigitalGeeks.org gets another printer in the budget, I’m going to walk us through the installation process, just a quick walk-through, no screenshots, no complicated mess… Just the drift.
Here we go:
Setting up a Makerbot2 on a Windows box should be a breeze. Assuming you’ve already un-packaged the whole thing, followed Makerbot’s instructions on prepping the device and plugging it into the wall, and of course the USB port on your PC, your are almost good to go…
Next simply browse to:
Follow the onscreen instructions. Permit any installation of drivers that it requests, and presto, you’re in business.
Now let’s say you want a software that is a bit more powerful. As the Makerbot Makerware software was in my taste, a sort of basic experience, and for the little knickknacks I printed, I felt more comfortable using the ReplicatorG open source software. We at DigitalGeeks.org are huge adherents to Open Source projects as everything will be Open Source eventually. ReplicatorG software supports both GCode and STL file formats. It’s based on the Arduino environment. And it’s compatible with many different 3D printers including the RepRap (Internal only: enter a printer you would like to sell here). I highly recommend using this software.
It was not complicated installing it at all, however there was one little snag… Some of my users (and admittedly myself) ran into an issue that was caused by downloading the latest version of Python…
I came across ReplicatorG by accidentally browsing to this page while looking for Makerbot drivers.
From there I followed the link that brought me to this page.
I downloaded and ran the (at the time of writing this article) a 74mb +/- sized executable.
I followed your ever-complex process of clicking the “Next” button.
Then the installation package checks your PC for a Python installation. Python is a programming language that will interface ReplicatorG, with your computer (and hence your 3D Printer).
Click the button that says: “Open python download page in browser”.
And that’s the fun part. As I am always trying to stay ahead of the curve, I kept trying to install the latest version I saw, 3.4.1….
Don’t do that, Stick with Python 2.7.8.
Because if you don’t you will waste 2 hours or more trying to figure out why ReplicatorG refuses to connect to the printer… 2 hours, that you will never get back. Just wasted. It will be even more pointless than watching M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village (another almost 2 hours closer to the grave, for a “twist”).
So after you install Python 2.7.8. continue with the ReplicatorG installation. Considering everything went well, you should now be able to print using ReplicatorG to load the objects you wish to print.
I hope this helps clear up a few things and carries 3D printing another step out of the DIY niche and into the homes of your average household.